In 2019, there were 51 political spending proposals at S&P 500 companies; none passed, and they received an average of 28 percent support. Last year, of 55 similar proposals, six passed and average support rose to about 35 percent. The nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Political Accountability partnered with activist shareholders on many of these resolutions. So far this year it has advanced 30 resolutions, and five of the seven that have been put to a vote won majority support.
Last month, shareholders of Chemed, the health care and cleaning conglomerate, passed a political spending proposal with 80 percent approval, and United Airlines’s investors approved a similar resolution with 67 percent support. Partners of the Center for Political Accountability have also won agreements from nine companies without their resolutions going to a vote, while three proposals were withdrawn based on conversations with companies about improving transparency into their political spending.
“This is the strongest opening we’ve had,” said Bruce Freed, the president of the Center for Political Accountability. “It sends a strong message to companies that shareholders want them to adopt disclosure and accountability policies for their political spending with corporate funds. Companies are really under the gun.”